Golf is getting younger and cool “for the first time”.
ROCHESTER, NY – Something strange has happened in golf, you may have seen it too.
It’s sweatpants and flat-brimmed hats. These are modern cut golf shirts designed to show off the body and not just dad’s body.
It’s official, the young people are here.
“If you think about where the game is right now, it’s never been in better shape,” said Seth Waugh, CEO of PGA of America.
And he wasn’t talking about golf shirts. During the pandemic, when golf suddenly became the only thing you were allowed to do outside of the home without a dog on a leash, it made sense to see new players taking up the sport. What pleasantly surprised the industry is that many of them never left.
“It keeps growing. “We thought we were going to see a downturn post COVID,” Waugh said at this week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, NY. “And the way it’s growing is really great too, and it’s in every cohort, whether they’re juniors, newcomers, enthusiasts, are increasing, and the two fastest growing cohorts are women and girls .”
The most surprising number Waugh cited was that 48% of American golfers today are under the age of 35.
“This is the most exciting stat I’ve seen about the development of the game in a long time. … I’d say not that long ago it was 75% over 50 years old,” he said. “I think for the first time we can really think that golf is cool and not just interesting, if you will.”
There’s a good chance the use of “Recon to Say” has declined on golf courses these days. In his early ’60s, the cool, old-school waugh with wavy silver hair and sockless loafers was what golfers were used to pacing fairways, but these days you’re just as likely to see wearable sportswear speakers and the occasional drone flying overhead.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that golf seems to fit well into the social media age: sunshine, stunning locations and big smiles draw thumbs to the like and subscribe buttons.
Participation continues to grow here in Canada too, with 9.3 million points posted for handicap purposes in 2022, a 19% increase from 2020. There are now 319,000 Golf Canada members, an 18% increase from 2019.
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The PGA of America has also begun tracking off-course golfers as the industry attempts to understand and quantify the success of golf entertainment facilities such as Topgolf, PopStroke, and indoor simulators. Waugh says the total number of golfers in America, combined on and off the course, has reached 41 million players. And he says there’s even more reason to be excited about the future.
“The new juniors are almost 40% playing girls, which is really exciting, and almost 30% are black kids. So it’s not just growing in absolute terms, but in the interesting ways that we were hoping for.”
So it might be time to ditch the khakis and hit the gym.
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https://torontosun.com/sports/golf-getting-far-younger-cool-participation-numbers-soar Golf is getting younger and cool “for the first time”.
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